Tuesday, 10 March 2020

COURT QUASHES NETONE BOSS SUSPENSION


NetOne Cellular chief executive officer, Lazarus Muchenje, has won a court case in which he was challenging his suspension.

Mr Muchenje was suspended on February 20 for alleged incompetence in the execution of his duties as the CEO of Zimbabwe’s second largest and State- owned mobile phone company.

The board also suspended acting chief finance officer Mr Tinashe Severa.

Some of the allegations the board cited include; failure by Mr Muchenje to provide documentation to the company’s auditors, unprocedural procurement of fuel and violation of exchange control rules by NetOne’s bureau de change units.

In challenging the board’s decision, Mr Muchenje argued that the special resolution to suspend him was patently unlawful and a nullity.

He further argued that there was no lawfully convened board meeting and there was no lawful resolution passed at the purported board meeting of February 2020.  He cited Ms Susan Mutangadura, Mr Winston Makamure, Dr Ranganai Mavhunga, Mr Paradzai Chakona and Dr Douglas Mamvura as respondents.

However, Dr Mamvura is yet to attend a single board meeting since his appointment in October last year. Dr Mamvura was appointed on October 18 last year by the then Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Kazembe Kazembe.

However, he has never been invited for meetings, despite the board, through company secretary Mr Tinashe (also acting CFO) having been advised about his appointment. 

The matter was heard before Justice Chirawu-Mugomba yesterday who ruled in favour of Mr Muchenje, saying the resolution to suspend him was made by an improperly constituted meeting.

NetOne argued that the matter had been brought before the wrong court, saying the Labour Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Justice Chirawu-Mugomba, however, ruled it was a constitutional matter which had nothing to do with labour issues.

NetOne also disputed the draft minutes, which had the resolution to suspend the CEO but could not provide alternative minutes.

The state cellular firm had appointed Retired Justice Moses Chinhengo to preside over the disciplinary hearing on Friday last week.

Early last month, NetOne chairman Mr James Mutizwa and other two board members resigned. 

People with knowledge of the matter believe they were pressured to relinquish their positions by some high ranking officials in the ministry.

NetOne is the oldest mobile network provider in the country. In light of the resignations, sources said the role of the committees had now been usurped by individual board members who are now carrying out the work of committees as individuals and without any structured meetings.

NetOne, formed in 1996 as the first cellular network in Zimbabwe is the country’s second largest mobile phone operator with about three million subscribers. Herald

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